MEU fails by three votes

Source: Sarah Strandberg, The Decorah Newspapers, May 14, 2018

The special election May 1 on whether the city of Decorah should be authorized to pursue a municipal electric utility (MEU) has been defeated by three votes. Following a recount Friday morning, two more “yes” votes were added, bringing the final total for the referendum to 1,385 “no” votes to 1,382 “yes” votes. Alliant Energy is the city’s current electrical provider. A citizens group, Decorah Power, asked the city to explore the possibility of a MEU. … Since the MEU was defeated, the matter cannot be brought back for a vote for another four years. … The “incredibly close” vote is a testament to the work of Decorah Power volunteers and supporters, Decorah Power volunteer Emily Neal said after the recount. … “We hope that the Iowa Utilities Board and Iowa lawmakers are paying attention to what happened here. If the role of the Iowa Utilities Board is indeed to look out for the consumers’ best interest, then the process for municipalizing needs serious reconsideration. …

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Power struggle: Iowa muni campaign heats up ahead of public vote
Source: Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network, April 9, 2018

Voters in Decorah, Iowa, will decide May 1 whether they want the city to move ahead with a proposal to leave their current electricity provider and create a city-owned utility to take its place. … According to municipalization advocates, the utility, which is based 100 miles south in Cedar Rapids, has hired a community liaison to represent it at community gatherings. … Both camps developed feasibility studies, with vastly differing conclusions. Interstate’s study found that creating a municipal utility would be very costly and raise bills for customers using the 8,100 meters in the Decorah area. Decorah Power’s consultant concluded that a city utility would serve the community well and through 2023 charge at least 4 cents less per kilowatt hour than Interstate has projected. Estimates of what the city would have to pay for Interstate’s assets and startup and application fees were similarly at odds. … The election’s outcome won’t have a binding impact but will convey the thoughts of the city’s 5,250 registered voters, including some of the 2,000 Luther College students, whose election participation is once again the source of contention. …

Iowa town’s municipal utility effort is financially feasible, consultant finds
Source: Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News, January 17, 2018

A northeastern Iowa community could lower its electric bills by creating a municipal-owned utility, according to a feasibility study presented to its city council Tuesday. Supporters of an effort to create a city-owned electric utility in Decorah, Iowa, got a boost this week from a consultant’s report that concludes the move is financially feasible. … Talk of a municipal utility surfaced after several attempts to develop renewable energy in the city ran into policies of Interstate Power and Light, the investor-owned utility that currently serves Decorah and much of the state. …

… Although the feasibility study, conducted by NewGen Strategies & Solutions and two other consultants, signaled that municipalization could work, Johnson said he’s aware of what a long and arduous process it would entail. The City of Boulder (Colo.), for example, last November approved a tax measure that will provide the funds needed to continue exploring the possibility of creating a city utility. That process began seven years ago. … Every year there are communities that start to explore creating a municipal utility to take the place of a for-profit utility, Schryver said. Although motivations tend to vary, she said that the desire for clean energy has been the main driver recently. A few new municipal utilities have taken shape lately. In California, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, which provides water service, recently won approval from state authorities to create an electrical utility as well, meaning it will displace Pacific Gas & Electric in that locality. … Jefferson County in Washington state formed a municipal utility in 2013 to serve about 18,000 customers who formerly purchased electricity from Puget Sound Energy. Three smaller communities — two in Alaska and one in Ohio — also created new municipal utilities in the past few years, according to Schryver. Although exploration of municipalization doesn’t always result in a city-owned utility, Schryver said it can effect change in other ways. In Minneapolis, for example, efforts to depart from Xcel Energy ceased when the utility agreed to expand its clean-energy portfolio. …